Children enrolled in our "Safe Park" program are battling the devastating effects of poverty, abuse, HIV, and AIDS. Many have lost parents and family, experience deprivation and abuse, have been stigmatized, and suffer overwhelming grief. These children need emotional and psychosocial support for their normal development and wellbeing. Here are stories of two children who are active partcipants in Safe Park gams and are thriving under the guidance of our trained staff. Both children now have a sense of well-being and belonging that is critical for their normal development.
Michael is 12 years old and lives with his grandmother in the community of Matero where most residents live on less than $2 per day and there is a high incidence of HIV, malaria, and TB. Since Michael was nine years old his dream has been to become a pastor when he grows up. To help him achieve this dream, one of his assignments is to open and close Safe Park activities with a prayer. Michael and his family enjoy this assignment. His grandma is happy that Michael works hard at school and can get help with school work at Safe Park. Trained child and youth care workers guide and counsel Michael to help him get closer to his dream. In his free time, Michael loves to play soccer.
Judy: Judy lives with her grandmother who is the sole caregiver for her and five other grandchildren and earns a living by selling mukoyo (a Zambian traditional drink). Judy participates enthusiastically in Safe Park games and activities. She receives help with home-work as she is preparing for grade seven exams (these exams are important in Zambia) at the end of this year. In addition, her family receives mosquito bed nets and education on prevention of malaria and HIV. Judy’s grandma is happy that Safe Park activities help Judy understand the importance of school. In addition, Judy’s grandma has requested our staff to mentor Judy to keep her away teen pregnancies, alcohol, and drugs that are prevalent in her community. Judy is a good student who loves learning.
Some of the services provided by trained "Safe Park" staff are:
- listening and responding to the problems faced by children,
- meaningful discussion of problems with family members and referring them to the right agency,
- allowing children to express their feelings and needs,
- helping children to appreciate their history and identity,
- encouraging children to set goals and reach their potential,
- ensuring that children have positive, nurturing relationships and connections in their lives,
- providing life skills (such as education on STI's) for older children and youth, and
- providing children with safe spaces to play.
These services have resulted in an improvement in children’s behavior, school attendance and performance and in the general well-being of the child. This program is popular with community residents as their children get an opportunity to play, interact freely with other children, mentor younger children, and learn about HIV prevention and care.
Thanks for your support and caring for orphans like Michael and Judy.